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Colca Canyon - Day 3

Written on: Thursday November 15th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Cabanaconde, Peru


Author: Julie




This morning we woke up to the sound of sheep bleeting outside our window. A mother ewe had been separated from her young and the young was crying for his mother. Knowing we were expected down for breakfast within the hour, we decided to get up and have another great, wonderful, hot, pressure shower. Ahhh! I?ve come to realise that the most important things in life, beside friends and family of course, are a clean room with a comfortable bed, a hot shower, and decent food. If these needs are satisfied every day then my spirits are high and I enjoy our new lifestyle, but if we end up with a freezing cold shower, a questionably clean room with potential roommates of the critter kind, or worse an uncomfortable bed, then I start longing for home. Fortunately, this does not happen often and we?re enjoying the vagabond life. Every day is a new surprise, a new discovery.


After a quick continental breakfast of bread with jam and tea, we checked out and headed to the little of Cabanaconde to take our bus. On the agenda this morning was a stop at Cruz del Condor, a look-out point along the road, where we were most likely to see the condors as they rode the thermals. There was a possibility of them coming within 10 meters of us. We had seen them high in the sky the two previous days so I was hoping to get a closer look at these huge birds. By getting on at the starting point of the bus, we were able to get seats, but a few stops later the bus was full and many of the groups who had started climbing out of the canyon earlier that morning were getting on and were forced to stand for the twenty minute. They all looked dirty and exhausted, I was so glad we hadn?t done the same.


We arrived at the look-out at 8 AM but the weather didn?t look promising. Large clouds loomed in the sky blocking the sun. Without the sun, there would be no heat to create the air thermals that were so important in our chance to see the condors. Because of their large size and weight, these ungainly animals literally throw themselves down from their aviaries in the canyon walls and catch the thermals that lift them up high in the sky. They don?t fly as much as glide from place to place. During seasons of draught and there is no carrion for them to heat, they actually can glide up to 150 kms to the coast and feast on seal pups that did not survive birthing. The weather held true and during the hour we were there we didn?t see of the grand birds. Honestly, I would have been surprised if we had. The canyon is home to about 60 condors and there were about 300 tourists including us waiting at the look-out to see them. I?m sure we were making enough noise to make them think twice before plummeting off the cliff.


The hour flew by (hehehe) and the next available bus arrived. We quickly boarded and our luck held true for seats again. We bumped our way back to Chivay and arrived in time to go to the thermal baths at La Calleta. The water was delightfully warm and we relaxed in them for the hour.


Back in Chivay, we experienced a truly strange meal at a turistic restaurant with a buffet. None of the dishes were labelled so until we asked our waiter or Jose we didn?t know what we were eating. I stayed safe and avoided what looked the weirdest. Turns out there was cow tripe soup, cow udders battered and fried, and cow hearts on brochettes. I?m all for experiencing new foods, but by my choice and not all at once.


After we all had gorged on the plain rice, we walked around the little village of Chivay. We stopped at the local markets and wandered around to see what they had. Like all the markets we had seen up to now, they had a huge selection of blankets, sweaters, ponchos, socks, mitts, and scarves made from Alpaca wool. We?ve been told they have the same in Bolivia but at half the price, so we?re waiting till then to do our real shopping. Next section was kitchen and hardware. At the market we saw a small ball pump for 10 soles so we bought it for the little school we had seen the previous day in the canyon. We gave it to Jose to bring to the village the next time he brought a tour group down. He was sure it would be very appreciated by children.


Time had run out and we had to get back on the return bus to Arequipa. The three hours passed by quickly and we all fell asleep. I woke up to see the familiar shape of the volcano El Misti near us to know that we were almost back in town. The time came quickly to say good-bye to all our new friends. Everyone was leaving town the next day and heading north to Lima or east towards Cusco. We exchanged email and made tentative plans to meet later in the evening for a last supper together.


Back at our hostel, we grabbed our bags out of storage, washed up and put on clean, dry clothes for the first time in three days. We invited a few more people to join us for supper and trooped off to the meeting point near the Plaza to meet up with the others from the tour. We decided on a little rooftop restaurant behind the cathedral and spent a very enjoyable evening drinking, chatting and swapping travel stories.